Pageant: The Musical OFF-BROADWAY REVIEWS

Photo: Tyrone Rasheed
  • Pageant The Musical
  • NY TIMES

  • NEW YORK OBSERVER

  • ATW

  • CURTAIN UP

  • TM

Opening Night:
July 14, 2014
Closing:
October 26, 2014

Theater: Davenport Theatre / 354 W. 45th St., New York, NY 10036

Synopsis: 

Like every beauty pageant you've seen before, Pageant features contestants desperately vying for a glittering tiara. With swimsuit, talent, and evening gown competitions – the show includes both the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat! Unlike some beauty pageants you've seen before, the female contestants are all played by men. And the audience gets to select the winner each night. Filled with excitement and suspense, but first and foremost, beauty…let the beauty begin!

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  • NEW YORK TIMES REVIEW OF Pageant: The Musical

    Here They Come, Big-Boned Beauties All Dolled Up ‘Pageant,’ a Musical Parody, Is Revived

    Charles Isherwood

    July 16, 2014: I have fond but vague memories of the original Off Broadway production of Pageant, a musical spoof of beauty contests featuring an all-male cast of competitors dolled up in shiny gowns, bathing suits and heels. Having seen the sparkly and serviceable revival of the show that opened at the Davenport Theater on Monday night, I am inclined to wonder if the vagueness might have something to do with the fondness. Then again, back in 1991, when the show made its debut, the idea of a beauty pageant parody featuring men in drag seemed novel and a little loopy. Today, when a man in a spangled dress would hardly raise an eyebrow sashaying down Main Street in Disneyland, the concept feels almost quaint. Beauty pageants, for that matter, have now practically evaporated from mainstream culture, making this broad sendup of the genre seem like a matter of shooting (exotic) fish in a barrel. Or do I mean (dead) fish in a barrel? The new production, directed by Matt Lenz, has been modestly updated by the original writers, Bill Russell (Side Show) and Frank Kelly, who collaborated on the book and lyrics, and Albert Evans, who wrote the perky music. References to Duck Dynasty and Twitter are now sprinkled over the proceedings. But these are merely a matter of a fresh corsage pinned onto a sun-faded gown. As before, the show follows the format of old-school beauty pageants pretty strictly, winking away madly all the while.

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  • NEW YORK OBSERVER REVIEW OF Pageant: The Musical

    James Franco’s first directed play is an amateurish letdown, but the drag musical 'Pageant' will perk you up

    Rex Reed

    July 16, 2014: From the ridiculous to the sublimely ridiculous, head over to the off-Broadway musical Pageant and leave everything behind except your sense of humor. This may be about a beauty contest, but it’s the audience that wins. The six gorgeous finalists competing for the title of “Miss Glamouresse of 2014” in the familiar categories of evening dresses, swimsuits, intelligence and physical fitness are like Miss America, with one difference. They’re all men! The results are outrageous, groundbreaking and thigh-slappingly hilarious. From an original concept by Robert Longbottom, who choreographed and directed the fabulous Broadway cult musical Side Show, the book and lyrics by Bill Russell and Frank Kelly (also of Side Show fame) and the knockout music by Albert Evans have been filtered through the vision of veteran director Matt Lenz until every aspect of this flag-flying, Rockette-kicking mini-extravaganza crackles and pops with what Kay Thompson used to call “bazazz.” From the opening number (“We are natural-born females/By nature we’re endowed/and we’re proud, proud, proud!”) to the surprise finale—calls for advice from TV viewers on the “expert beauty-crisis hotline”—there’s a laugh a minute awaiting summer audiences badly in need of some.  

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  • AMERICAN THEATER WEB REVIEW OF Pageant: The Musical

    'Pageant' - Beauty Queen Musical Comedy

    Andy Propst

    July 15, 2014: As the musical Pagaent, which opened last night at the Davenport Theatre, starts up, the cast of the show sings "We're natural-born females," putting the central joke of the tuner right out into the open. You see, the six beauties in spangly pink cocktail dresses are anything but. Instead, they're a game group of guy actor-singers who will do just about anything to get a laugh and tug at your heartstrings as they play the hopefuls in the Miss Glamouresse Beauty Pageant. The show---conceived by Robert Longbottom, and with book and lyrics by Bill Russell and Frank Kelly, and music by Albert Evans---isn't a new one. It had its premiere back in 1991 and since that time has rested fondly in theatergoers' minds (sort of in the way shows of the period, like Designing Women, have lived on). In the case of television shows, we can savor the comedy in reruns. With theater, though, we need revivals, and if you're someone who becomes fixated every time Julia, Suzanne, Charlene and Mary Jo flash across your screen (television, laptop or tablet), well, this breezy musical should certainly be on your shortlist of shows to catch. For others, Pageant will prove to be a pleasant summertime diversion with enough giggles (and a few genuine guffaws) to warrant a trip into musical theater camp.

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  • CURTAIN UP REVIEW OF Pageant: The Musical

    A CurtainUp Review Pageant: The Musical

    Deirdre Donovan

    July 14, 2014: Pageant, the musical comedy that sends up beauty pageants with razor-sharp edge, is being revived with a fresh infusion of testosterone this summer at the Davenport Theatre. And with the excellent Jim Bolton playing the Host (Frankie Cavalier), accompanied by a bevy of six male beauties, this is tomfoolery incarnate in eighty-five minutes of musical theatre. Who would have thunk that this little show (book and lyrics by two-time Tony nominee Bill Russell of Side Show and The Last Smoker in America fame ) would have had so much spunk and longevity in it? It began its life Off Broadway at the Blue Angel in May 1991 and then winged its way to the West End for a year-long engagement before taking flight again and being staged round the globe. It came full circle last February, returning to New York for the first time in 20 years at the Red Lacquer Club as a five-evening sold-out benefit. And with the current iteration coming on the heels of the Gay Pride Parade in June it gains a kind of political correctness that isn't pushy in the least. The six male performers playing the beauty contestants know how to flex their comedic muscles and unapologetically are in overdrive with ambition to claim and wear the tiara. Each actor plays a wannabe representing a geographic swath of the country and all deliver their regional stereotype with pizzazz and a wink: There's Mick Cearley (Miss Great Plains), Nic Cory (Miss Industrial North East), Alex Ringler (Miss Texas), Marty Thomas (Miss Deep South), Seth Tucker (Miss West Coast), and Curtis Wiley (Miss Bible Belt).

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  • THEATERMANIA REVIEW OF Pageant: The Musical

    Six men in drag compete for the title of Miss Glamouresse, with the audience as the judge.

    Zachary Stewart

    July 14, 2014: A giant glittering G hangs above the stage of the Davenport Theatre, the proscenium decked out in what appears to be metallic pink wrapping paper. This is the set for the off-Broadway revival of Pageant, a musical comedy from Bill Russell, Frank Kelly, and Albert Evans (The Texas Chainsaw Musical) that takes aim at the exciting world of beauty pageants. Watching this show is kind of like watching an episode of The Big Bang Theory: You'll probably laugh, but then feel a little gross afterward for doing so. Six contestants (all men in drag) emerge from behind a shimmer curtain (economically recycled from the Forbidden Broadway set) to take part in an epic battle of hairspray and cheesy quatrains spoken through permasmiles. Ushered on by our crooning host, Frankie Cavalier (John Bolton), they compete in several categories in an effort to win the coveted position of Miss Glamouresse 2014. There's the spokesmodel challenge (in which they have to sell us giant prop Glamouresse Cosmetics™), the talent competition (poetry readings and interpretive dance), and the swimsuit category (aka "best tuck"). At the end of the show, five judges selected at random from the audience get to decide who takes home the tiara. It's kind of like The Mystery of Edwin Drood, but a whole lot gayer.

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